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Gotta have my
Bops

Gotta have my
Bops

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Abby and Amanda, the Ditty Bops, love retro music, elaborate stage shows--and each other. The cult-fave pop duo come out

As Abby DeWald puts it, "Why not have a calendar of girls with little tits and big asses wearing bikinis, on bicycles?" And that's exactly what you'll find: the Ditty Bops Bicycle Bikini 2006 Calendar, for sale at www.thedittybops.com, a Web site as antic as Abby and partner Amanda Barrett's band.

The Ditty Bops meld ragtime, music hall, folk, and whatnot into an easygoing, toe-tapping concoction with intriguing lyrical twists. Abby--the shorter, wiry one who sort of looks like Jennifer Jason Leigh--plays acoustic guitar and usually sings lead; Amanda--the tall, modelesque one with the Louise Brooks bob (she actually did model for 11 years) --plays mandolin, dulcimer, and washboard and sings Naomi Judd- style alto harmonies. Together they write the songs and create elaborate theatrical shows complete with props, costumes, skits, and amusing slide shows. (The duo will bicycle from Los Angeles to New York this summer, playing 12-15 gigs of varying sizes along the way.)

Take their recent performance at the Getty Center in Los Angeles, which variously included a three-piece band, a ballerina, and a winged male angel who played a gorgeous harp solo. Then there was Abby's jaw-dropping outfit: a sheer jumpsuit with strategically placed cover-ups. Was she perhaps inspired by Cher from her "If I Could Turn Back Time" days?

"I'll dedicate it to Cher," acknowledges Abby, laughing. "We love Cher. But I also want to credit our designer, Louis Verdad."

It's obvious that the L.A.-based Ditty Bops love to dress up and put on a show. What isn't as obvious is that they're a couple in life as well as music--girlfriends for the past seven years. "I had never been in a relationship longer than a month before," admits Amanda, at 27 a year younger than Abby. They first met at the University of California, Davis, where Abby was studying art (her whimsical drawings decorate their Web site and the cover of their first Warner Bros. album, The Ditty Bops). Then they ran into each other months later across the country at a midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in New York City.

"We spend an insane amount of time together," says Abby, describing their life since then. They don't hide their relationship, but they don't exactly sing "I Got You, Babe" onstage either. The closest thing to an "out" song on their album is "There's a Girl," which goes, "There's a girl who's close to me / Closer than you'd like to think..." Actually, Abby insists, "Everything we write is a love song to each other." Aw.

Their second album, Moon Over the Freeway, will come out in a few months. "This one is more like our live sound, with embellishments," says Amanda. "We've been playing a lot of these songs during our last year of touring, seeing which ones go over well."

It doesn't seem like the Ditty Bops put much restraint on their creativity, but one wonders what sort of show they'd do if they had the budget of an arena act. "Lack of funding challenges you to be extra creative and can lead to some of the coolest moments in a show," says Amanda. "But if I had gobs of dough to spend, maybe I would fly around like Peter Pan while playing, rent a mechanical bull to ride, and shower flower petals from the ceiling."

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

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